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Making the most of fall

Well, another fantastic summer in Tahoe has passed us by, albeit at a quickened pace. I even made a point of maximizing what the warmer part of the year has to offer here in the Sierras, but I still feel like the calendar is coming up short.

There’s no doubt we all notched a few epics in the top-tube this year but I’m not ready to surrender the simple pleasantries of summer yet. You know, things like sandals, barbecues, getting sunburned between 6 and 8 p.m., forgetting a jacket and … forgetting about it. And who can forget your friend with the boat?



It all just falls into place so nicely. And I’m not ready to surrender the simple pleasantries of summer biking, either. The claustrophobic obligations to booties, a beanie crammed under your helmet, insulated jackets and neo-fricken-prene gloves can definitely wait.




But I digress. The last day of summer doesn’t always mean what it says, and we seem to be having a bit of a warm spell this week. All the more reason to bust out what you haven’t busted, to endure what you haven’t yet suffered through or crush that short, quick maneuver that keeps tossing you like rag doll. I’m talking about challenges on the bike, of course.

Once winter does finally set in it sucks to not have made the most of summer. I say that for obvious reasons but also for the fringe benefits of carrying some fitness into the winter months. Being stronger and more limber will probably make you a better skier or snowboarder and it will definitely cut down on the likelihood of an injury. Plus, you’ll probably weigh less in spring if you weigh less in fall. I know my waistline grows when the mercury drops.

The weekend ahead will serve up plenty of opportunities to nip and tuck your body or your bike. On Saturday morning the third annual Tahoe Sierra Century departs Squaw Valley for three fully supported routes; a 30-miler to Donner’s west end beach and back; a 60-mile ride to Cisco Grove and back via old 40; and a full-blown 100-mile ride that precedes the Cisco Grove route with a trek from Squaw to Kings Beach along the north shore of the Lake, then over Brockway Summit (267) and north on 89 to Alder Creek, after which this heartiest of rides winds through Tahoe Donner before linking up with the Cisco Grove route. Eventually, all three rides end up back in Squaw where dinner and award-winning jazz music from the bands at North Tahoe High School and Middle School will be available. The event is a fund-raiser for music programs at both North Tahoe schools.

For the more adventurous sect, the Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race returns to North Lake Tahoe on Saturday. Adventure racing is one of the fastest growing sports today and the Big Blue version will accommodate both first-timers and veteran racers by providing a number of course-lengths to choose from. Competitors may sign up for either the two- to four-hour sprint competition or commit to the extended six- to 12-hour version. Finishing times are wholly dependent on participants’ ability to conquer the myriad challenges that adventure racing presents. Big Blue competitors will mix kayaking, mountain biking, hiking/running with old-fashioned orienteering. Shorter distances and a variety of “surprise” tasks await the sprint racers. The 24-hour Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race is scheduled for October 15.

Northstar’s Downhill Mountain Bike Race Series comes to a close this weekend, as well. Get some practice in on Saturday and sign up for Sunday’s season finale. Entry fees vary from $25-$35 and discounted lift tickets are available for $20.

Competitions aside, the number of personal outdoor challenges that lie scattered around the Tahoe basin remain abundant despite the decline in average temperatures. In fact, mid-day weather conditions might even be considered more accommodating than any other time of year for activities that pair athletics with copious exposure to the sun. Long treks along high exposed ridgelines can be more tolerable than ever this time of year ” barring thunderstorms ” and bonus sneak previews of the transition into fall are turning up on all corners of the Lake.

If there are any outdoor activities you haven’t managed to tackle this summer, the next weekend or two are dedicated to you and your respective mission. The weather for the weekend ahead looks great and the crowds have definitely subsided. So, bust out and get ‘er done, you’ll have fonder memories to look back on when the snow flies and you’ll be that much more ready to park the bikes and pick up the boards.

Peter Berridge is an accomplished professional mountain bike racer, tour guide and journalist who lives in the Truckee area. He can be reached at peterberridge@yahoo.com.


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